Overview

Ciprofloxacin belongs to a class of potent antibiotics called quinolones or fluoroquinolones. These drugs are quite popular with prescribers because they can help cure a wide variety of infections. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) are used for a wide range of infections including bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, prostatitis and skin infections.

We used to think side effects were uncommon but we have changed our tune (see side effects below and please take time to read some of the comments below this post. They will give you a more accurate picture of what happens in the real word.) Bacteria appear slower to develop resistance to such medications.

This antibiotic also works against traveler’s diarrhea and other bugs that invade the digestive tract.

Side Effects and Interactions

Ciprofloxacin may cause lightheadedness. Do not drive or attempt any activity that requires coordination and judgment if you become impaired.

Some people report restlessness, insomnia, nightmares, dizziness, tremor, headache, or irritability while taking this medicine.
This list hardly does the complications of ciprofloxacin justice. Some people experience hallucinations while taking the drug. And the nightmares can be horrifying. An athlete reported that both she and her husband suffered with “strange thoughts, muscle pain, tingling, and shooting pains in our arms and legs.”
The diarrhea can be severe and requires medical intervention if it does not resolve promptly. A C. diff infection can sometimes result from antibiotic treatment. Such GI infections are extremely challenging and can be hard to eradicate.
Finally, this entire class of drugs can cause unexpected damage to soft tissue. The FDA has received reports of retinal detachment with these antibiotics. Problems with tendinitis and tendon rupture are so serious that the FDA has warned doctors about them in a special “black box” in the prescribing information. It took the agency quite a long time to discover this devastating complication.
Here are a few stories from visitors to this website to reinforce these complications:

“I suddenly got floaters and went to my ophthomologist. He cautioned me to come in right away if I suddenly had a curtain over my right eye. He was concerned about retinal detachment. Yes, I had taken Cipro for diverticulitis before that.”


“After years of taking Levaquin or Cipro (cousin drugs), I took Cipro on August 2, 2010, and have been wearing an air cast for tendinitis in my foot since August 28, over two months. I also have tendinitis in my elbow. Both my podiatrist, who is treating my foot, and my acupuncturist, told me that ciprofloxacin is known for causing tendinitis.
“The saddest thing about it is that I told the doctor who prescribed, that I had read older persons (I am 75) should not take ciprofloxacin. He said it would be fine. Hah!”


“Last Dec. I had a UTI & my Dr. prescribed Cipro. Within a week I developed tendinitis in my left elbow. A month later, I developed a tendonitis in my left hand & a month later I had a tear in my right rotator cuff.
“It took me five months of physical therapy to get over these.”


“Since I have taken both Levaquin and Cipro… I have had both calf muscles to tear in half just walking… I have a tendon that has hardened and balled up in the middle of my right foot.”
Rita


 

Such symptoms can be made worse by coffee or the asthma medicine theophyline.

Cipro affects the liver and may allow caffeine and theophylline to build up to toxic levels in the body.

Because Cipro may cause digestive tract upset, nausea, pain or diarrhea, you may be tempted to use an antacid. That could be a big mistake.

Aluminum or calcium-based products, including Di-Gel, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Tums, can dramatically interfere with the absorption of Cipro. Wait at least two hours after taking Cipro before swallowing an antacid.

Vitamin and mineral formulas can also cause problems, so they should not be taken at the same time either.

Other side effects are rare, but be alert for changes in vision, rash, sores in the mouth, joint pain or stiffness, chest pain or heart palpitations, urinary changes, or
breathing difficulty. Report any symptoms or suspected side effects to your physician promptly.

Special Precautions

Pregnant women and children should not take Cipro. Others may be allergic to this medication.

If you experience symptoms such as breathing difficulty, wheezing, sneezing, hives, or itching, obtain emergency medical attention.

Life-threatening anaphylactic shock is rare, but it demands instant treatment.

People with kidney disease should take Cipro only under careful medical supervision, as special dosage modifications may have to be made.

Liver enzyme elevations have also been noted, so periodic blood tests will be necessary if you have to take this medicine for any length of time.

Taking the Medicine

Cipro is absorbed more efficiently when it is taken on an empty stomach. The manufacturer recommends that it be swallowed two hours after a meal.

If this medicine upsets your stomach, though, it can be swallowed with food without losing potency.

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  1. Ann
    MS
    Reply

    I took Cipro last week for a UTI. Within a few hours of taking the first pill, I had bad abdominal pain. But, since that is also a symptom of UTI, I didn’t think much of it. Well, as the day went on and after spending half an hour on the toilet, I realized the pain was gastrointestinal and not from the UTI. I took two pills a day for 2 more days before I gave up because the pain was too bad. It’s now a week later and my stomach is still bloated and painful. I’m extremely gassy. My stomach is distended. I’m hoping this goes away but now I’m starting to worry it won’t.

  2. Kevin
    Connecticut
    Reply

    In June of 2010 I had a burst appendix which of course required emergency surgery. Post surgical meds were IV doses of Cipro for days. I was quite out of it as the infection was extensive. Since then I have experienced a gradual numbing in the distal area of both feet. It then began in my right hand affecting my thumb, index and middle fingers. I have been tested for diabetes which was negative. There were thoughts of vitamin B-12 deficiency being the root cause. That followed with B-12 injections followed by daily oral doses all to no avail. As numbness is a side effect of Cipro I am curious as to the long term affects. So far there has not been a successful diagnosis of the problem.

  3. Ann
    North Carolina
    Reply

    I took cipro for a UTI and then a kidney infection – one week of 500 mg and then a few weeks later 250 mg for seven days followed by 500 mg for another 7 days. About a week before the last pill my ears started to itch but I did not make the connection. I took my last pill on December 17th and the next day I developed an itchy rash on the calves of my legs. Then I started to have severe abdominal pain and went to the doctor who ordered a CT scan and ultrasound. The tests showed nothing significant. The abdominal pain continued for 6 weeks and finally stopped after I took probiotics 3 times a day and lots of yogurt and Kefir. During this time I developed hives, swelling and blisters all over my body in addition to the rash. I am currently being seen by an allergist who is certain that this was a severe reaction to Cipro based on blood test and skin biopsies. I am on my second round of steroids because last week my eyes and face swelled up. This has been going on for over two months. I think that this drug should be taken off the market.

  4. Marianne S.
    Coldspring tx
    Reply

    I have been taking ciprofloxacin now for 4 days and I must stop. I have a bladder infection but these side effects are soooooo dangerous. Old shoulder injuries are killing with pain. Crazy nightmares, and heart palpitations and heart spasms. I bet people die from this stuff. I’m done. I’ll have to find a much safer way to treat my infect. I’m terrified these symptoms may not go away. Bad. Bad. Drug!!!!

  5. Dawn
    United States
    Reply

    I was recently prescribed Cipro for bronchitis. 500 mgs twice a day. I had severe stomach pain. It was like a severe stabbing pain with bloating and gas. I was also constipated. I had to stop taking it after three days do to the severity of the stomach pain. The pain lasted for a week after. I still have the gas. When does that stop?

    • Lisa
      Wisconsin
      Reply

      I’ve had the same exact issues – bloating and gas. A lot of gas. I also developed a sharp pain in my lower back, and I thought my UTI had spread to my kidney. I went back to the doctor and all results are negative for kidney issues, and/or stones. Reading all of these reviews, I’m now thinking it might be a side effect of this medication, maybe part of the gas/bloating. I was only prescribed 3 days (6 pills), and I’m finally done with it. Hopefully the symptoms start to subside.

  6. Michael
    United States
    Reply

    I am 66, took Cipro for approximately four weeks to prevent infection from a kidney stent after removal of a kidney stone simultaneous with TURP (prostate tissue reduction procedure). Prior to surgery I had to be catheterized four times while alternatives to surgery were explored with no effect. I have been off the drug for about four weeks, have residual muscle weakness that I am hoping will go away eventually. Pain is not debilitating, only kicks in when I try to lift things, use a screwdriver or otherwise create tension/torque in my joints. I have no known health issues, take no other drugs, have been doing a lot of daily walking to rebuild strength throughout my body. I am wary of working out in other ways given Cipro’s history of causing tendonitis, rigidity in tendons that can break/tear.

    I must say, however, I am extremely thankful for Cipro (no infections, was given the ‘all clear’ just a month after surgery). My advice to everyone is to do everything you can to be healthy in every way including eating right. I stopped eating meat a decade ago when I started having allergic reactions caused, I suspect, by chemicals/hormones fed to feedlot livestock. I have had two emergency surgeries this past year (broke an ankle in March, 2014), was given ‘EZ-pass’ to both operations because I am healthy, have excellent vitals. Best wishes to everyone. – M

  7. Amanda
    Reply

    I am a 24 year old female with perfect health until I got a UTI and was prescribed this drug 500MG 2x a day. I have been off of the drug for 9 days now and I have severe pain in my hands, arms, shoulder, legs, knees and feet, and headaches. Typing this causes me distress. I have been to two doctors already and a pharmacist and they all tell me that Cipro would not cause this. They act like this is minor, but it’s killing me. Please someone tell me you were the same, but got better. Please tell me how long it took and anything you did to help. I cry myself to sleep every night since because of the pain.

    • Brittany
      Canada
      Reply

      I’m having the EXACT same symptoms, I’ve only taken it for about four or five days but I’m stopping immediately. These stories are scaring me so much. Please let me know if you’ve recovered.

    • Jill
      Dallas
      Reply

      The Doctors and pharmacists are lying. I took cipro and 5 days later my Achilles started hurting so bad I could hardly walk. I called my Dr, he told me I had cipro tendinitis. Next stop Orthapedic. I had to wear a cast and the a boot for 5 months. It was agonizing pain. It’s now been 10 months and the Achilles is much better but now my rotator cuff is acting up. You need to take magnisium, you can look it up on the Internet.

  8. Maya
    Miami
    Reply

    I’m a flight attendant and I travel to South America I picked up some kind of intestinal bug. I got a prescription for Cipro when I came back. I had heard there was some issues with it but was reassured by the doctor that is the only thing that they can give you for intestinal problem/Bacterial issues. I have been having leg cramps at night and during the day and I think it has something to do with taking the Cipro.

  9. kenny
    ohio
    Reply

    I took cipro for about 3 1/2 weeks now my heart flutters and I haven’t took any for 2 days , I will never take that again. That drug is dangerous, I can’t walk very far my heart about jumps out of my chest. I just wonder how long it will last.

  10. eliza
    Estados Unidos
    Reply

    Well I’m taking ciprofloxacin. 500mg for UTI for bacteria in my kidney.
    Im taking the first day, I take the whole pill just give me side effects like my bones hurts, my elbow, and I have nightmares. Actually I see my grandpa beside me. By the way, he is dead. It was weird. I Was scared about it but now I’m taking the half of the pill. It still hurts my bones and I have nightmares, but the doctor checked me again about my UTI test she told me I just have many infections. So still take the pills. Hope this finishes fast I can’t handle it any more.

  11. Jackie H.
    Ohio
    Reply

    I took cipro for uti’s two times the first time it affected my feet Legs the second time it caused the valves in my legs to stop working, my ekg and ecg to be abnormal. My doctor doesn’t believe me, My heart is enlarged and I am still having problems with my legs and feet.

  12. Rop
    Florida
    Reply

    I have terrible pain in the soft tissue in my neck, shoulders, and feet. I took Cipro for UTIs for many years. I can not stand for more then ten minutes without feeling like I’m walking on broken bones and hot coals.. Thanks to an mcu device at my chiropractors my neck and shoulder pain had decreased quite a bit. I had been off Cipro for three years approximately. One week on Cipro and my soft tissue is on fire, and I woke up with my right arm asleep. I wish I had known before I took it about the side effects. I was told previously that I have fibromyalgia. Could this condition have been caused by the years of taking Cipro? It occurred at the time I was taking Cipro for chronic bladder infections?

  13. Jackie H.
    United States
    Reply

    I was given Cipro for a uti, I had swelling in my feet and ankles. My legs and feet were so stiff I could barely walk. Now I have severe pain in my left hand, I am having tests done on my heart and leg veins, to see what the problem is. I know it was the Cipro, because I never had this problem before.

  14. pmf
    Reply

    I was prescribed this for a uti. I’m 50 and take no other medication, active and in shape. By day 3 my upper thighs were so sore I had trouble walking, thought it was just a result of great round of tennis. Day 5 I’m walking like I’m 90. 3 more pills left- after reading this i am not taking anymore. Will call the doctor on Monday.

  15. OR
    Reply

    I had very bad sinus infection. Was given ciprofloxacin for a week. I took the first couple of days 250mg twice a day. My sinus infection got worse. I felt foggy headed and not right.
    As the time went on to day four and five my sinus infection was almost bursting my head. I did not take the last two tablets because I felt so bad. The day after stopping the ciprofloxacin my head felt a bit better but I felt as though I was taking UTI.
    I am never taking ciprofloxacin again, I am trying to get rid of the UTI without antibiotics but the ciprofloxacin definitely caused the UTI.
    It also made my hair feel like steel wool.

  16. mlw
    Reply

    I have been on this for a few days and now I have gas so bad that I don’t want to go to work because I fart every 10 min.

    • same
      Reply

      I am experiencing the same issue. Did you have bloating and stomach pain? I feel extra sore after working out as well.

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